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Full text of "My country and my people"

LITERARY    LIFE
time, It had Its laws of structure and a store of Idioms wMcfa accumulated by literary accidents from the works of dynasties.  Thus It came to have an Independent reality of Its own, subject more or less to literary fashions.
As time went on, this discrepancy between the literary language and the living language of the age became greater and greater, until to-day the study of the ancient language Is, in point of psychological difficulties involved, exactly similar to the learning of a foreign tongue for the Chinese people. The laws of ordinary sentence-structure differ between the literary and the spoken language, so that one cannot write in the ancient language by merely substituting certain ancient words for the modern words. A simple phrase like ounces should be syntactically changed into silver          ounces, and
whereas the modern Chinese say / never saw (it), the ancient idiom requires the construction J it sawy the accusative object being regularly placed before the verb in the case of negative verbs. Modern Chinese schoolboys are therefore apt to commit the same idiomatic blunders as when English school-bop say je vois vous In learning French. Just as in learning a foreign language a very extensive acquaintance with that language is necessary before one can really master the ordinary Idioms, so in the practice of writing ancient Chinese, years of oral repetition and reading of masterpieces (minimum ten years) are required before one can write fairly presentable ancient Chinese. And just as very few people succeed In really mastering a foreign language, so In reality very few Chinese scholars succeed In writing really idiomatic ancient Chinese, Actually, there are only three or four Chinese to-day who can write "idiomatic" Chinese of the classic Chou Dynasty. Most of us have to put up with that bookish sort of language which foreigners command easily enough, but which lacks the true flavour of the mother tongue.
The use of the Chinese characters made this development possible. Moreover, the Independence of character from sound greatly accelerated its monosyllabic quality. Actually, bi-syllabic words In the spoken language can be represented by a monosyllabic character, because the character itself by Its composition makes the meaning already quite clear. Thuss in